Posts Tagged ‘Faith and Teens’

Ok, going out on a limb here with the moms in our audience, but hear me out.

Christian music isn’t going to “save” your kids.

It’s time to be honest and admit…the ways of the fresh 80’s and inspirational 90’s are gone. Cool – hip and modernized Christian music just doesn’t hit today’s tween and teen with the same “oommphhh” it once did

courtesy of Amazon.com

courtesy of Amazon.com


It may still warm the hearts of thirtysomething moms and encourage pastors there is a sensible way for the younger one’s  to purge their urge to dance without being put in “time-out….but that’s not enough anymore.

The truth is, after three decades of a legit Christian Music Industry that has spawned billions in revenues and launched thousands of Dove award-winning artists, we’re loosing our youth to a godless world view like never before. In the end… it’s statistically sad but true, all that hip and “proper” music is no protection against the evil and seductive world outside the church walls.

Somehow, getting the lyrics ‘just’ right isn’t enough.

What’s that have to do with Post Modern Alt rock ? Well nothing really, but it does point to the larger picture that it’s genuine – heartfelt art and beauty that will leave a mark on our kids lives.

Our kids are FEELING STUFF !!!Yes, just like we did and do and they need to be touched by authentic beauty and art that connects their feelings to God’s heart!

IF and when  Christian artist can stop playing it safe, and are allowed to write and sing with their hearts…connecting their passion and faith with our own… its amazing!  Their music lands with the megaton impact of a nuclear encouragement and reminds us all that God is real and knows exactly how we/they feel. (For modern examples of such creativity check out… “Rend Collective” or “Lecrae“)

Rend Collective, Integrity Music

Rend Collective, Integrity Music

But if 90% of it all sounds just exactly like the previous nine songs on the radio and fails to really connect in any way that’s significant… (before you send me hate mail,I understand there are awesome and authentic artists making a tremendous difference)…Why would I expect it to move my tween-kids to aspire to live a life of holy and sanctified living?

May God give you the wisdom to know which battles to fight and which to concede. The war we must win… is for their hearts! Trusting in Christ for ‘real” transformation is the goal, not dying on the battle ground of being “right”. For some… music very well could be a decisive issue, for others its academics and the pull of all the extra-curricular stuff.

Post Modern Rock from "Animal Collective"

Post Modern Rock from “Animal Collective”

The proof of a true Christian isn’t in their pre-sets on the car radio or the artists on their playlist, it’s in the authenticity of their hearts. Same must be true of our kids. 

Tomorrow’s Christians are not going to be recruited to join “the cause” by making sure we have a “hip” message of purity and purpose. It’s going to be confirmed and accepted by our teens as they observe the consistency in our lives. How we love and live with the integrity of our words and the gentle warmth of a forgiven spirit.

Post modern rock isn’t the danger… faking it, is.

Peace out!

Pastor B

PS – thanks to my 17-year-old son Caleb for introducing me to his extensive post-modern-alt – jazz/rock playlist on our recent road-trip to Philadelphia. Awesome stuff – inspiring really :)

DISCLAIMER: as a Christian music & media executive, I have invested large pieces of my life into creating and providing modern media for Christian families (at iShine), I believe in wholesome and engaging content as an essential presence in every Christian home.


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Teenager = nearly adult sized, complex, often-irrational, hormone soaked, walking – talking, mood machines. As impossible to predict as the stock market in an election year.

For parents of “teens” the challenge is the same. How do we connect with them in the middle of their funk?

Couple of quick thoughts to share, ALL learned the hard way.

1 – SPACE; teens need their space. Don’t hover or cover them when your feeling their “pulling-away” vibe. Fight the parental instinct to force the issue and immediately resolve whatever is ailing them. The reality is, it probably has little or nothing to do with us. Give them the emotional and physical space to move back towards you when their hormones re-balance.

source -totstoteensmagazine.com

source -totstoteensmagazine.com

2- RESPECT; teens crave respect. Even if what they just told you is absolute drivel, don’t blow it off right away. We parents need to consider their ideas, dreams and passions as we would an adult friend. Learn to focus for a moment on their latest passionate obsession before blasting it away. Listen to their interests as closely as your opinionated adult brain allows you to.  Fight the urge to correct the many errors of logic and false assumption that you will most certainly discover!

3- CONSISTENCY; teens love and hate this. Love- Love- LOVE the stability that we as parents provide when we stand our ground on life issues. They Hate, Hate – HATE House rules, our rigid moral values and insistence on sticking to the bible. In the end our decision to rule with quiet fortitude will be more effective than periods of passivity & frustrated – enraged debate.

As my dear friend Fr Brian Hardin says… “teens like to try on new ideas and new identities like clothes“, let’s give them the space and the pace of life to thrash out who they are going to be without “reacting” every time they say or try something crazy. Instead we need to stand firm on our principles of faith and family values and watch as they process it all into their own beliefs. Go ahead and be near enough to support and protect them… but with the space they need to expand and grow.

I believe parenting is like marriage, it only works if your committed to making it work. For parents of teens…renew your determination to keep trying until you find a way to connect with each of your kids hearts. No matter what.

In the end, we’re broken and flawed parents trying to raise up “perfect” kids. Folks, let’s be honest…It Aint’ gonna happen. Let’s plan instead on God’s Grace working in us to attract them to a Faith and a God that’s big enough to handle us both.

Peace out, Pastor B.

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Fear grips every parent. No exceptions.

We all know our pH levels drop to battery acid levels as icy spasms start to form deep inside. Fear, becomes helplessness… ending in despair.

The acid pit we call a stomach boils uncontrollably as we near our puke point… from the moment we allowed ourselves to ponder in vivid detail all the horrific outcomes of life.

We lurch forward numb and nauseous praying – “sweet Jesus don’t let “that” ever happen to my little one”…. we rush to push the nightmare back into our sub-conscious, hoping to never find out what “that” might feel like as a parent.

But the pit in our stomach eventually creeps back…. a breaking news report of another tragic school shooting or a families missing teen girl, we easily slide back into another acid soaked anxious parenting turmoil… we have so much to worry about already.

We understand the “normal” stress of parenting… all wanting our children to emerge from adolescence with at least a rudimentary sense of balance and wholeness, familiar with “right” and “wrong” , connecting to their faith with growing certainty. We parents of faith, hope and pray they  learn to trust God for themselves as they walk through their teen lives… “trying on” their parents beliefs and values to see if they fit.

What we can’t endure or cope well with is the “curve balls” life throws at us. The things that no-one could have predicted. A cancer diagnosis, bankruptcy… marriage collapses, or legitimate random tragedy.



As parents we’re expected to navigate our own lives and our kids as we bounce from one life moment or challenge to the next, hoping and praying for enough strength to “hang on” for one more hour… one more day. When we add layer upon layer of fear upon our minds and hearts… we start to know despair.

For those who feel that despair… Remember this! God won’t leave us to get through it all by ourselves. No matter what we feel or can sense in our desperate moments… God has NOT ABANDONED US.

When you feel the acid burn in your gut…it’s time to reach past the tums and find your bible. Reach for genuine hope and linger in it until you find encouragement, not containment. God has plans for us and for our kids, we just need to remember what they are and how faithful God is to make everything work out for good.

It’s amazing how a few moments in prayer – reading an encouraging Psalm or sharing your uncertainties with a good friend, frees us from the paralytic grip of chronic anxiety & fear. God’s promise isn’t to keep us from trouble, but to keep us company while we’re in it. His PEACE is ours to have in any circumstance.

picture source - pincel3d.deviantart.com

picture source – pincel3d.deviantart.com

Sometimes we just need a nudge back to sanity… back to some pillar of our Christian faith and then the clouds break and we can see the light again. I think the Apostle Paul (author of Romans) really knew how we all feel at times…

Romans 8:  (NIV) – Biblegateway. 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose.

Pastor B.

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It’s a real possibility. Current statistics of media consumption for families  reveals that over 80 hours a week on average is spent online, watching TV or listening to Mp3 players or a combo of all three.  (State of the Church & Family (c)2011) / Orange and Barna Group)

How Much Media is Enough ?

What does that say about us?

I believe it says that we’re addicted to entertainment, to stimulation. I know I am and I’m nowhere near 80 hours a week. It’s a natural migration for my mind and senses to want to be engaged. To avoid silence and stillness, not conciously…but subconsciously.

Why is that?

I’m guessing it’s a mixture of our human nature, technology and opportunity all coming together in a perfect storm. Our nature pulls us towards pleasure above all else…. our technology is so cool it’s overwhelming to the eyes and ears and senses and comes in waves of even cooler and smaller gadgets. The opportunity is almost endless with access points in our homes, schools and local McDonalds for anyone with a wi-fi capable phone, pad or pod.

Does that make Media a bad thing?

Not in my humble opinion. Media is what it is, neutral and unaffected by morality or values…it’s what we do with it that moves it from a non-factor to a huge positive or negative in our lives. It’s no worse than food, money, leisure, relationships or work in that regard. A necessary activity or resource that God has allowed for us to enjoy and use to our benefit.

What is the REAL danger behind it?

I believe the danger from media is its ability to subtly affect our beliefs and undermine our mental stamina. Ok…in english. Sexuality – nudity – violence – trashy talk and greed  can become common place in media, subtly removing our resistance to such conduct and replacing our conscience’s with apathy and indifference. Mental capacity starts to fade as we engage only the consumptive parts of our psyche and allow the deductive and problem solving – creative processes to atrophy and slowly fade. We’re content to allow others or things to do our thinking for us… trusting their reasoning and data over our own. (I.E.  Wikipedia vs. Personal experience)

Media and Teen Values ?

What do we do when popular Media suggests our beliefs are in error ?

Hard question. Reacting in fear is a problem… not reacting is a problem. The challenge is to confront the issues without rejecting the medium (media) or the individual teen or tween asking the question. Not responding or ignoring these obvious challenges to our values and beliefs will result in substantial changes in our kids values and principles and patterns of learning, problem solving and living…. a risk that I’m NOT willing to take.

Getting practical.

If media is out of balance in our lives, it becomes an idol. A mini-god. Just like sex, food, money or careers… this can usurp the role that God alone can play in one’s life or family. Time to take an honest look at the amount of media and entertainment that we’re consuming and then assess how we as parents need to filter it.

Slow things down – unplug from time to time. Say NO to your kids, and watch stuff with them… find out what they are absorbing from their peers, from their hero’s and from media…maybe its time to take the weekend off. Go outside, go fishing, hiking, antique picking, rake the yard, carve a pumpkin, visit a friend, clean the garage, volunteer for a charity, wash your car… Do SOMETHING that is physical and interactive and do it WITH your kids. Be spontaneous… make it fun and balanced. SLOW down your schedule… reduce the dependency on stimulation, and replace it with relationships, talking… walking, reading and writing. Engage your brain and your body.

Oh and don’t forget to model this for your kids BEFORE you ask them to change. Otherwise…we’re in danger of being ignored :)


Pastor B.

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Courtesy of Mission Six and Bema Media

I’ve been learning some important new lessons about today’s teens… First and foremost among them… ASSUME NOTHING ABOUT THEM…

Our next generation  (called by some the Millennial) is not like any before it in recent history. They are careful to consider before accepting values about life, faith and family. Unlike the generations previous, they seem much more cautious in general about embracing any “ONE” world view. They may dress ragged, sport some piercings and tat’s, but despite their hair color and style…they are deeply curious about spirituality and faith and life. Don’t give into the temptation to judge this book by its cover…

Given our saturated media culture, their attention requires extra efforts to focus. Entertainment has become a primary motivating factor or value in their lives and as a result any parent, teacher or pastor seeking to engage them in meaningful communication will need to plan on implementing media to some extent in the process.

For parents… Millennials will most certainly take longer to make up their minds about their faith, God and family…but when they finally do. Lookout! Unlike the boomers they will commit deeply and intensely pursue what they feel is true. (i.e. Green movement, Human Rights, Animal advocacy etc..)

My encouragement… be patient, be real. Take your time and don’t seek to answer every question with a “well-rounded” biblical quote. Instead, offer them a hard look at your real life as a Christian with real challenges and trials and pain. They are stronger than any generation before them, and they not only can handle the truth, but they demand it.

As a parent and a pastor, my heart is growing for this generation… I see them as a potential “JOSIAH” Generation for my faith. King Josiah was twelve years old when he started to reform the nation of Israel into a covenant keeping kingdom of Peace and Faith. (Find out more in the Old Testament – II Chron 34) He led the adults in the recovery of the “Bible” (or book of the Law”) as the center piece of the values and principles of life. He re-directed the government resources to build up the Temple and to cleanse their culture from the moral decay of generations. His heart was “turned toward” God, and it was a powerful testament to the ability of God to skip a generation of leaders when the majority of an adult faith population fails to embrace and pass on the life principles of God as intended.

I believe it is quite possible we are seeing a new movement of sincere and authentic teens who are much less interested in following our lead into the future, and much more interested in seeking God for themselves. As leaders in this time, our dilemma very well may be to engage them with the principles behind the word and mentor them into a stable and consistent pursuit of the Faith for themselves… WITHOUT loading them with the baggage of some of our comfortable evangelical traditions.

Peace and Grace as you lead in your homes, churches and schools. But remember… it’s very possible that this Millennial generation is teaching us as much as we are ever going to teach them.


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So I’m watching spongebob on Nickelodeon last week with my 13 year old son and I see a commercial promo spot for “Degrassi” as I see two girls professing their deep desire and love for each other in breathless, very grown up ways… followed by a super slow camera shot of a  romantic kiss of sizzling intensity and I must say…magnificient cinematography.

And in shock, I’m thinking to myself… surely that wasn’t what I thought it was ?… Not an openly lesbian lead storyline in one of the biggest pre-teen television shows on TV ?

Ten minutes later I see it again… and again the promo runs of a romantic lesbian scene with the latest cool music packaged as pretty as can be… no accident, no mistake now. Teen Nick has moved from their role of  empty entertainers to sexual education. No longer are they just focused on making shareholders more money, or launching the lucrative careers of  its tween and teen  heart-throbs. 

Teen Nick has moved well beyond  just producing mindless candy pop kids shows that define the “popular’ and “beautiful”. Their shows have long been the rabid fare of pre-teens, desperate to grow up sooner and careful to emulate the perfect hair styles, whitest teeth and latest fad fashions of their stars… now it seems they are actively promoting bi-sexuality as  being  a better way of experiencing teen love and “coming of age” life lessons for today’s kid.  

Fellow parents out there, you need to know… the scene I saw is just a sampling of the “adult” media that has now moved into the mainstream teen television world. Its clear they are becoming incredibly good at glamorizing bi-sexuality as the newest wave of pop culture to our most vulnerable age group tweens. (kids between the age of 7-13)

This newest episode of “Degrassi” should serve as a  warning for all of us who are seeking to preserve any semblance of a biblical world view for our families of faith.  We can no longer “assume” the stuff on mainstream pre-teen  TV is “safe”. The shows my kids used to watch on Nick or Teen Nick at  the very least respected the balance of being a moral “neutral” value for consumption… those days are gone. We cannot assume any longer that the stuff on Nick or Teen Nick can be watched un-supervised or at all.

That’s a scary thing when you stop to think about how well Nick Jr. and Nickelodeon have educated and entertained this same generation of kids for years, starting out with the innocence of such shows as “Dora the Explorer” and “Spongebob Squarepants” and then as our kids grow older, they begin to insert the super cool teen show “Degrassi” with all of its moral rot.

 It seems on the latest episode of “Degrassi” the producers decided the best storyline possible for our pre-teens and teens would be to highlight the newest “in thing” for our kids, the excitement of experiencing a same-sex relationship with tweens and teens. After watching the episode online I felt the core message of this show seems to say…”for you to be as cool as the kids on Degrassi, it’s time to admit you want to be openly gay with your girl friend.” They don’t skimp on the guys being into guys on this show either, but for now… this is enough. I’ve copied the storyline summary from the episode in question for any parents who care to read it. It’s not even subtle… it’s sick.

Degrassi: In Too Deep Recap: Season 10, Episode 42 “Chasing Pavements, Part Two” (04/09/2011)
More Degrassi: Recaps | News and Cast Interviews | All TV Recaps http://www.teennick.com/shows/degrassi/

Fiona comes out. Fiona has successfully completed rehab, but up next on her plate is facing the vicious Bobby, her physically abusive ex-boyfriend. But Bobby offers the family $100,000 to not go to trial. Fiona is completely against taking the settlement, but her mom is worried about how the trial might emotionally affect her, and thinks she should take the money. But with Holly J’s support, Fiona convinces her mom to let her push forward. Fiona surprisingly holds her own on trial, but can’t take back the fact that she embellished the bruise in the photo she took of her scar, and after Bobby’s testimony, she begins to doubt her decision, and considers turning to alcohol, until her coping techniques come in great handy. But when another girlfriend of Bobby’s comes forward and confesses that Bobby has abused her as well, Fiona’s case is made. She wins $250,000! In her happiness, she kisses Holly J on the lips!

Fiona has a romantic dream about Holly J and realizes her feelings for her best friend. Holly J and Fiona plan a sleepover together, while Fiona reconciles with Adam about their past and sets up a movie date with him. She confesses that he wasn’t a problem in her life, and she still likes him. But while they’re hooking up, Fiona tries to compliment him for being “the best of both worlds”, and Adam storms out, telling Fiona that she just wants a girl. The next day, she confesses to Holly J that she doesn’t like Adam anymore. In turn, on their sleepover, Holly J realizes she loves Declan in a way that she doesn’t feel for Sav. When her mom comes home, Fiona confesses to her that she’s gay, and she’s in love with Holly J. Her mom fully supports her, and tells her that it won’t be easy, but she can get through it. She comes clean to Holly J that she’s gay, who also isn’t the least bit bothered by it.

Seriously if you have taken the time to read this far… you are realizing what I did, the culture our kids are living in and around has been teaching them to abandon the traditional views of faith and family and sexuality for something much “cooler”… bi-sexuality is the way to go if you’re as hip as they are.

How many millions of teen and tweens living in the chaos of their own confusing and un-glamorous lives are being swept into this deception ?  I mean this show is openly suggesting that if you care for a friend, and they are the same-sex… it very well could be that your attracted to them because your gay or bi-sexual. And not only is that “o.k”, but it’s actually very cool to do.

Parents, I’m begging you… WE ALL NEED TO WAKE UP

Our world is changing the rules and it’s happening on our watch. Our kids are being fed a growing diet of sexual storylines, images and role modeling that is influencing an entire generation of kids with a different gospel and a different truth than the one they hear from us.

Please take the time to talk with your kids, block the teen nick channel if you dare on your home cable or satellite tv’s and clarify your beliefs and values with your kids TODAY. tomorrow may well be too late.

Sorry for the long and ominous blog today, but it scared the crap out of me when I began to research this a bit. When I asked my high-school daughters about this stuff, they casually noted… “Oh yeah dad, that’s been popular for  a while now at our High School…popular girls know, if they want to get a hot guy, they just need to openly engage in a lesbian fling and show they are bi-sexual for the guys to get interested…” It’s been that way for a while…

God, help us lead this generation back into the truth and hope of our faith as Christians. “Here’s to families who are determined to keeping their families on the road and in between the lines of life…” I’m encouraging you to find out more, review what your kids are watching from the PC, to the iPod to the televisions in your home. Take an ACTIVE ROLE and ASSUME nothing. It’s a scary time to be a parent, but I believe God has a strategy and a plan for those of us who take the time and listen for it.

Take the time today.

Peace out…


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